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Independent service model gets extended

Independent service model gets extended

Independent risk advisory business Stone and Associates, which revealed its new centralised structure last month, has a new sibling.

The innovative “back office” company Service 1st has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Stone’s parent company, Asteron, and the two companies will come under the same management.

Service 1st founder Mike Maloney will become General Manager of the two companies.

Like Stone & Associates, Service 1st will remain independent - servicing existing clients, adding new adviser groups and handling any service requirements from Asteron as another confidential client.

Mike Maloney says he welcomes the introduction of an institutional investor to Service 1st: “Only positive things will come out of ensuring Service 1st remains robust and is able meet the current need for rapid growth. Existing clients are satisfied the company will remain independent and their companies’ confidentiality will not be compromised by the new ownership arrangement.”

Maloney says he is also looking forward to returning to a management role in day-to-day risk advisory with Stone. The Kiwi, who has a MBA with distinction from Massey University, started his career in Australia with Prudential, then Colonial Group. Immediately prior to starting up Service 1st, Maloney was National Manager, Distribution Services for Tower in New Zealand.

The business plan for Stone and Service 1st, constructed by Darrin Franks of Conetworkz Management Solutions, has so much potential that Maloney says he is already seeing benefits including improved customer engagement and happier advisers with enhanced remuneration terms.

The business is also operating leaner, he says, and some of its ongoing capital costs have been trimmed through outsourcing administration functions to Service 1st.

“These functions are not only what will become an integral part of compliance requirements, but vital to the levels of service clients expect from their advisers in today’s economic climate,” he says.

Darrin Franks says the need for flexible and up-to-date service provision technology in the sector has grown rapidly in the past decade, but many advisory businesses are still struggling in this area. Clients expect first class service, even more so since the financial meltdown this year, and advisers who do provide that service will retain customers in difficult times and can expect those relationships to flourish in better times.

Advisers that are unable to provide high levels of service cost effectively are likely to continue to see churn in their portfolio, Franks says.


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